No. 145.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard .

No. 291.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of a dispatch from the Tsung-li yamên informing me that by agreement with Great Britain the import duty and lekin tax on opium has been fixed at 110 taels per chest. Opium is, after paying this duty, to be relieved from further taxation. The opium business in China is mostly in British hands. It is supposed that Germany will consent to this arrangement. Should she fail to do so some trouble might ensue. Her subjects might insist on paying 80 taels import duty and take the chances on the lekin tax. This would lead to smuggling into the interior, which China wishes to prevent.

In connection herewith I may be permitted again to express the hope that the present Congress will enact the necessary legislation on the [Page 183] opium question. The moral influence of this legation has alone prevented breaches of the treaty stipulations. The question is liable to come up in various forms, and has already several times been bruited. American merchants make tentative efforts to evade the strict provisions of the treaty. The Chinese, on the other hand, are very jealous of their treaty rights. At any time disorder may arise at one of the treaty ports, and the representatives of the Government are powerless to prevent any infraction.

* * * * * * *

I hope that such legislation will have been enacted before this dispatch reaches you.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 291.]

The Tsung-li yamên to Mr. Denby .

Your Excellency: The prince and ministers have the honor to inform your excellency that some time since the Government of China entered into an agreement with the Government of Great Britain fixing the import duty and lekin tax on opium, the same to he collected under special regulations.

The yamên, in conjunction with the hoard of revenue, memorialized the Throne in the matter of fixing the time when the collection of this duty and tax should come into operation. It has now been decided that on and after the 1st day of February, 1887, the duty and lekin on opium, to he collected alike at all the treaty ports, shall he 110 taels per chest.

Now, besides having communicated with the customs or tax establishments in all the provinces and instructed the inspector-general of customs to notify the commissioners of customs (at all the treaty ports) to act accordingly, as in duty bound the prince and ministers send this communication for your excellency’s information.

A necessary communication addressed to his excellency Charles Denby.